When Paul appears before Felix in Caesarea, his accusers say, “For we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. He even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law.”
Paul responds saying, “They neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city. Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.”
After hearing both sides, Felix sends Paul back to prison but with liberty and rights to visitations. “But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.”
Festus honors the Jews’ request and agrees to send Paul back to Jerusalem to be tried. But Paul, not wanting to be tried in Jerusalem, invokes his rights as a Roman citizen and requests that his case be appealed before Caesar – “For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.”
When King Agrippa II (the son of King Herod Agrippa I who killed James and the great-grandson of Herod the Great who killed the babies in Bethlehem in search of Jesus) visits Caesarea, Festus presents Paul’s case to him. So Paul again shares his testimony of how he once persecuted Christians but when he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus his life forever changed.
Paul uses his life to teach everyone he can about Christ, no matter his circumstances or the cost to himself. Paul says, “Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come- that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”
“Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You almost persuade me to become a Christian.’ And Paul said, ‘I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.’”
King Agrippa II and the others conclude that Paul is not deserving of death or chains, but since Paul requested to go before Cæsar, tomorrow Paul is off to Rome. Keep reading. (Acts 24:1-26:32)